Close Before You Doze

Did you know: Because of synthetic materials, furniture and construction, fire spreads faster than ever before.*  

You do know how important it is to have working smoke alarms, escape plans, and a designated meeting place in case of a fire. Closing your doors is also important for your safety. Closed doors can reduce fire growth, limit damage to your home, keep temperatures down, and can even save your life if you become trapped. 

If there is a fire in your home and you can implement your home escape plan to get out – get out! But if you can’t, a closed door could make a life-saving difference.

Our friends at the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) are working hard to keep firefighters, and residents, safer from fire. They have developed the Close Before You Doze campaign. Please take a moment to view the video below to learn more.

*NIST Technical Note 1455-1, February 2008

Keeping Your Little Ghouls And Goblins Safe

Halloween can be a scary time as it relates to fire safety. Decorations and candles in particular can turn your Halloween into a horrifying experience if care is not taken.

We want to make sure your little ghouls and goblins have a fun time safely. Please take a moment to view the below picto-graph, from our partners in safety at the National Fire Protection Association, for some helpful tips to keep this Halloween a safe one for you and your loved ones.

Halloween fire safety tips

Accessible version here

Halloween by the numbers*

  • 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires annually that began with decorations.
  • These fires caused an average of 2 civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries, and $11.4 million in direct property damage per year.
  • Almost half (45%) of these fires were tied to decorations being too close to some type of heat source, such as a candle. A fire can start when candles are too close to decorations or when long, trailing costumes come into contact with candles.

*From the NFPA

Fireworks Safety

fireworks safety

The Fourth of July would not be the same without those breathtaking fireworks. However, tragedy can strike within seconds when fireworks are not properly and safely used. Many people in locally and nationally are injured each year due to fireworks. Consider the following safety tips when using permissible fireworks:

  • During the use of permissible fireworks, minors should be supervised by a parent or legal guardian. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light one fireworks device at a time, then back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • Avoid buying or handling fireworks that come packaged in brown paper as this can often be a sign that the fireworks are commercial or display-type fireworks made for professional fireworks shows. These fireworks can pose a serious danger to consumers and the public.
  • Adults should always supervise activities involving the use of permissible fireworks. Parents often do not realize there are more injuries from sparklers to children under five than from any other type of fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • When using permissible fireworks, place the device on a flat surface, clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings (50 feet).
  • Keep all bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
  • Read the directions.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

For an expanded list of fireworks safety tips, as well as information on fireworks safety-related publications, reports, videos, news, and recalls, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Information Center online.

No Ordinary Play Date

By: Mike Mohler, Captain I
Fire Station 16, Clifton, A-Shift

Recently, the MOMS Club of Clifton/Centreville South stopped by Fire Station 16, Clifton, to learn more about fire safety and to get a tour of the station. They had a specific request for us to teach them how to develop and execute a home escape plan in case of fire.

The crew from A-Shift were up to the task and utilized materials from the department’s Life Safety Education section as well as a YouTube video. To practice what they learned, Firefighter Irene Lawrence took the parents and children into the bunkroom and instructed them how to escape a bedroom when their smoke alarm sounds. Everyone then got to practice!

After the important fire safety lesson, one of the firefighters dressed up in full gear to show the kids what a firefighter looks like when they go into a fire. They also had a chance to check out the fire truck and ambulance.

Thanks to the MOMS Club of Clifton/Centreville South for stopping by, to meet your local firefighters and to learn how to keep your children a little safer.

Half Century of Commitment for FRD’s Turner

photo of Doug TurnerThe below article appears in the latest edition of Team Fairfax Insider. It is posted to this blog with permission.

When Doug Turner joined the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson was president, protests against the Vietnam War were growing, Elvis Presley got married, the world’s first heart transplant took place and the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album reached number one on the charts.

Fairfax County had evolved from a farming community to one growing exponentially as the federal government created programs and jobs, and many of those employees settled in the surrounding suburbs. This put demands on the county to provide services to accommodate the public safety needs of the rapidly developing county, which provided many job opportunities.

With 10 years’ experience as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force and at National Airport, Turner, at age 31, was hired by the Fire and Rescue Department and given badge #239, meaning he was the 239th firefighter hired. Back then, firefighters (all male until the county’s first female firefighter was hired in 1979) drove open-air fire engines and trucks, exposed to the elements and noise. “When a call came in,” Turner recalls, “firefighters put their helmets and boots on, grabbed their turnout coats, then jumped on the tailboard of the apparatus, hanging on for dear life. We put our coats on while flying down the street.” The phrase “catch the hydrant” was when the pumper would slow down slightly, but not stop, as it passed a fire hydrant near the fire. “The firefighters had to jump off the moving vehicle, grab the hose with a hydrant wrench wrapped inside and throw it toward the hydrant where they would anchor it with a foot as the pumper continued down the street stretching the hose toward the fire,” Turner explains.

In his career, Turner witnessed tremendous changes in training, protective clothing and equipment, as well as tactics and specialties such as emergency medical services, hazardous materials and technical rescue. There were no national standards at the time so they had to develop their own.

Looking back on his career, he described being promoted to sergeant at the Fire and Rescue Training Academy, where he worked from 1974 to 1982, as one of his most rewarding experiences. “Normally that assignment would be for a couple of years to get your ticket punched for future promotions,” he says. But he fell in love with training and stayed nearly eight years. He was part of a team of eight trained in emergency medical services, including CPR, by some Fairfax Hospital doctors so they could then train others in the department. The training was so rigorous that only four of the eight made it through.

Acknowledging the physical demands of the job and characterizing it as for the young, Turner strongly believed 55 was the age to hang up his helmet and stop riding apparatus, which he did in 1990. However, fire service was in his blood and he wanted to continue contributing, using his knowledge and many years of experience to return the next work day as a civilian inspector in the Fire Prevention Division where he has worked since.

What would he tell a new employee just starting out? “Consider carefully if it is something you want to do for the rest of your career,” Turner counsels. “If you don’t like your job, you won’t excel at it.” He added it’s important to “put your nose in the books and learn all you can in order to do the best job possible.”

Some go into firefighting because they think it will be nonstop excitement, Turner acknowledges. And while there is the thrill of saving people and property, there are also many hours of training, maintaining equipment and otherwise preparing for the calls that make up a smaller part of the actual job. Now with perspective in his 50th year, he looks back: “I have truly enjoyed my career.”